Following the success of Chandrayaan 3 (India’s Third Lunar Mission), ISRO is going full throttle with its plans to send Indian astronauts to the Moon by 2040, the chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), S Somanath said on December 13, 2023.
Features of Gaganyaan Mission
In an exclusive article in a famous yearbook, the Secretary of the Department of Space said “Looking ahead ISRO aims to take the next step to the space exploration with the Gaganyaan Program, planning to launch a crew of two to three astronauts from India to the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) for up to three days before safely landing them back to a pre-defined site in Indian Waters.
The Bengaluru-based Space Agency is currently working on the country’s maiden mission, popularly known to the people as the Gaganyaan Mission which aims to send astronauts into the LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and bring them back to Earth safely. Four physically and mentally fit officers of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are undergoing training at the Astronaut Training Facility in Bengaluru. A humanoid robot called Vyommitra is also being sent as a part of the space mission.
Elements of the Mission
The inaugural manned mission involves developing critical technologies, including a human-rated (capable of safely transporting humans launch vehicle (HLVM-3) an Orbital Module comprising a Crew Module (CM) and Service Module (SM), and life support systems. Two identical uncrewed missions (and G2) beside the integrated Airdrop Test, Pad Abort Test, and Test Vehicles flights will precede the manned mission.
The CM is a habitable space with an Earth-like environment in space for the crew and is designed for a safe re-entry, Safety measures also include a Crew-Escape System for emergencies, a statement issued by the yearbook said. The first development flight of the Crew Escape System was followed by the Crew Module Separation and its safe recovery from the Bay of Bengal by the Indian Navy.
Aditya L1 Mission
“The Success of this test flight was crucial for subsequent manned missions and the ultimate space mission expected to be launched in 2025, said Somanath, who is also chairman of the Space Commission. Aditya L1, which is India’s maiden solar exploratory mission is also an important mission of ISRO, he noted. It will study the Sun from the unique vantage point of Lagrange Point -1 (L1) approximately 1.5 million km away from Earth, where it will be inserted into a halo orbit in January 2024.
Success of Chandrayaan -3
On the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, he termed it as a historic achievement leading to the declaration of August 23, 2023, as the National Space Day by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. In the mission life of 14 days, it yielded valuable lunar data, discovering aluminum, calcium, iron, chromium, titanium, sulfur, manganese, silicon, and oxygen in lunar soil.
Among the ambitious ongoing and upcoming missions, are the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite, Space Docking Experiment, and the LOX Methane Engine. Elaborating, he praised the capability of the (SSLV) a three-staged launch vehicle that can launch a 500 kg Satellite into a 500km Orbit and can accommodate multiple satellites. It has launch-on-demand feasibility, minimal launch infrastructure requirements, and low cost. With the two flights in the recent past, the SSLV is in the transition stage from developmental flights to operational flights.
Somanath further said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set ambitious goals such as commissioning a Bhartiya Antariksha Station (BAS) an Indian launch station by 2035 and embarking on an interplanetary exploration featuring a Venus Orbiter Mission (Shukrayaan) and Mars Lander (Mangalyaan) to further solidify India’s prowess on the global stage.
Exuding confidence that India’s Space Program will reach new heights in the coming years, he said “With every mission launched and every discovery made, ISRO reaffirms the position on the global stage as a force to reckon with instilling national pride and expanding India’s technological feat.”